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Warrant Needed for Police to Track Cell Phones

Posted by John P. Rutkowski | Nov 27, 2019 | 0 Comments

Criminal law -- Search and seizure -- Cell phones -- Site location information -- Site simulator. The trial court did not err in granting defendant's motion to suppress evidence found with defendant who was located in victim's parked car through the use of Cell Site Locator Information (CSLI) and a cell-site simulator (simulator used by law-enforcement to track cell phones). The defendant had standing to challenge the search because defendant is challenging the search and seizure of his location data, not the search of the stolen car. The good faith exception to the exclusionary rule applies to law enforcement's warrantless use of CSLI where controlling case law at the time and the statutes authorizing law enforcement's access to CSLI with a court order, taken together, provided sufficient precedent on which law enforcement reasonably relied. Good faith exception to the exclusionary rule does not apply to law enforcement's warrantless use of cell-site simulator where neither law enforcement's application for a court order nor the order itself mentioned a cell-site simulator, and there was no binding precedent affirmatively authorizing law enforcement's practice of using a cell-site simulator without a warrant. The government cannot rely on the absence of binding decisional law in this area to conduct a warrantless search.

Read Court Opinion Below:

About the Author

John P. Rutkowski

Mr. Rutkowski has been practicing law for the past twenty-four years. Prior to going to law school Mr. Rutkowski served as a deputy sheriff before retiring to attend law school. Upon graduating law school Mr. Rutkowski served as a prosecutor in Florida before going in to private practice.

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